Why do we read a series? 5 observations.

Hello, DreadHeads. The newest Dresden Files novel dropped today, after five years without a full-length adventure in magical Chicago. We’ll get another one in September, so Butcher is rewarding our patience.

I’m about a third of the way through PEACE TALKS and I love returning to familiar ground. That got me thinking about why we enjoy series books as readers, and I have some ideas:

5: Large-scale escapism

Series books that are well-developed tend to give us a huge world where our imaginations can run free. This very real itch is what online RPGs scratch at in the human psyche. Even with their costs and dangers, we prefer them to our own reality, and vacations there are cheap.

Harry Dresden’s apartment, Hogwarts, the Millennium Falcon, these are all great examples. Bonus points if the world has abundant foods that you can recreate. You then get to hold a real piece of this fake place in your hand.

4: The progress of a character

The weak become strong, the ugly turn beautiful, the poor become wealthy…but most important, fools gain wisdom and they learn from their mistakes.

You know. All the stuff that real people never do.

3: The progress of a world

Hunger Games does this one well with regard to the setting as a character. I think in general we are excited by changes in our surroundings and those changes are a lot cheaper to render in a fictional landscape.

This point is connected to the next one, which is…

2: Flipping over stones

Perpendicular to “changing the world” is “exploring the world.” Dresden spends a dozen years in Chicago before he dies and has to navigate the ghost world version beneath it. Then he goes to an island on Lake Michigan, where he learns about monsters from beyond reality. There it’s always something to discover, and with a series you get to see something new all the time.

A point that dovetails nicely into…

1: Delightful anticipation

Don’t you love having something new to look forward to? I do. And while it’s nice to see how a long story comes together in the end, the journey is a long, joyful walk that doesn’t require us to rush.

What do you like about a series?